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Techno

Tom Hanks is King of the Typewriter Apps

HanxWriterAppGranted, it’s a relatively small category. But this week’s number-one-with-a-bullet Productivity and Overall categories success of Tom Hanks‘ free Hanx Writer iPad App proves the two-time Oscar winner can do no wrong.

From Sarah Perez‘s TechCrunch report:

Launched last week, Hanx Writer turns your iPad into an old-fashioned typewriter, offering a pseudo-analog typing experience. The bangs of key presses, hard returns and the chimes that sound when you reach the end of a new line now sit alongside modern conveniences like the ability to correct without white tape or whiteout, and options to print, email or share your documents when complete.

Is it necessary? No, not really. Is it enjoyable to use and well-made? Well, yes.

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An App That Correlates News Feeds to Reader Moods

There is so much to ponder in The Guardian‘s summary of a recent weekend spent hacking journalism at MIT Media Lab in Cambridge, alongside various other print and digital teams.

BombPopperPicAmong the products developed over the event’s 48-hour span is Bomb Popper. The core idea belies the App’s clunky name:

The ratio of negative to positive news is roughly 17:1. But are you always in the mood for heavy news? The idea of Bomb Popper is it allows you to read news based on your current mood.

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Yahoo Tech Reporter Interviews Ukrainian Chatbot

You will NOT read a funnier transcribed interview today than the conversation between Yahoo tech columnist Deb Amlen and a chatbot programmed under the guise of a 13-year-old teenager.

DebAlmenChat

This Ukraine-programmed cypher has been getting a lot of press for cracking something known as the Turing Test. But we prefer to focus on the Amlen convo, starting with Eugene’s wise-beyond-his-years and entirely politically incorrect POV on the dating scene:

Q. Do you have a girlfriend?

A. I don’t have a girlfriend ‘cause I still can’t understand what a pleasure to spend my money on somebody else without and instant or delayed result.

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Dude, Here’s Your App

The two stoners played by Ashton Kutcher and Sean William Scott in the 2000 movie Dude, Where’s My Car? would likely approve. It took 12 long years for someone to drop the comma and finally turn their titular movie question into an iPhone App.

That someone is 26-year-old Michigan native Mike Holp. Now living in Austin, Texas, he tells FishbowlLA there have been about 7,000 downloads of the free Dude Where’s My Car App since he launched four months ago. And yes, just like the movie and famous Seinfeld episode, it’s designed to help people who have forgotten where they parked their vehicle:

Who hasn’t lost their car in the parking lot? With this App, you will never lose your car again! All you have to remember to do is a drop a pin when you park. The App does all the rest!

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Journalism Site Checks In with LAT’s ‘Robot Reporters’

Sarah Marshall shares a couple of fascinating new examples at journalism.co.uk of the algorithm-assisted reporting being perfected at the LA Times under the watchful eye of database producer Ben Welsh (pictured).

The first is an early-morning Ken Schwencke-bylined item on February 1 about a 5.2 magnitude earthquake that hit SoCal. Even though the reporter was still in bed, he was first to the news:

“Ken wrote the algorithm that sits on top of earthquake notifications,” Welsh explained. “The structured data comes in and Ken has an algorithm that says if the earthquake is close to California and over a certain magnitude it is ‘news’.”

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William Shatner Goes Boldly Where Many Have Gone Before: The App Store

On the original Star Trek series, William Shatner as Captain Kirk would typically command crew members to set their phasers on “stun.” With his very first Smartphone App Shatoetry, the enterprising actor is offering purchasers the choice of two different modes.

Solo mode allows one person to slice and dice recorded Shatner words into a stream than can be shared via email and social media. Co-op Mode puts the creative exercise on a timer and enables users (“Shatoetists”) to co-create sampled phrases (“Shatisms”) with their online friends.

“People all over the world have been listening to my voice for so long, but they’ve only ever heard what I wanted to say,” explains master of shameless self-promotion Shatner. “This is one of the first Apps to extend a celebrity brand in such an interactive way. Every time I use it, I enjoy it more and more.”

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Tom Foremski: iPhone 5 Coverage Encapsulates Everything That is Wrong with Tech Journalism

The name Tom Foremski may not be immediately familiar beyond Silicon Valley, but he holds a rather remarkable distinction. He was the first reporter from a major daily newspaper to defect to the ranks of full-time blogging in 2004 when he left the Financial Times.

Foremski decries what passes these days for legitimate tech journalism. Although Fortune magazine for example sent five reporters to Apple’s big iPhone 5 announcement in San Francisco, he notes that the much bigger story was unfolding next door at the Intel Developer Conference. He says most tech journalists have become six-Web-items-a-day “product journalists,” celebrated for breaking product specs ahead of the mass-market consumer sales sheet:

Each time I write about the dull state of tech journalism I get a lot of support from readers. Much of it comes from the PR industry where there is a surprisingly large and passionate distaste for product journalism. It’s encouraging to know that there are many others fed up with the state of tech journalism today and that there’s support for change.

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George Takei Releases Ringtone to Support New Theatrical Venture

George Takei is a lot of wonderful things: Sulu on the original Star Trek, unofficial king of Facebook, gay rights activist, and a delightfully catty queer with a tendency to purr in his rich baritone, “Oh Myyy…”

Now Takei is turning his catch phrase into a ringtone to benefit the new play “Allegiance,” a musical about the Japanese-American internment camps during World War II. The show, in which Takei stars, will open in September at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego.

The ringtone costs $1.50 and all proceeds benefit the theater, so it’s a pretty cheap way to support the arts. And it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than going to the theater – tickets for “Allegiance” start at $39.

KCRW Launches Spotify App

KCRW is set to become the first American radio station to broadcast on Spotify. The station is taking its Music Mine iPad app and recreating it on Spotify. Instead of simply listening to KCRW music and having it disappear into the void, the Spotify app will allow fans to keep track of the music they hear and play it again whenever they please. The daily playlists of KCRW’s DJs will be available on demand, online.

“Spotify’s musical offerings are tremendous and as music consumers adapt this technology into their listening habit, KCRW will be right there offering a curated list of the best music from around the world,” says KCRW director of new media Anil Dewan.

KCRW would be the first station in the world to land on Spotify, but, we’re told,  ze Germans beat them to it a few months ago.

Typing Karaoke W-i-n-s Second Annual Hollywood Hack Day

It was quite the scene last night at io/LA, a new incubator and work-share space in the heart of Hollywood. Row upon row of tired young male programmers, putting the finishing touches on 48-hour works of wonder and then presenting their proofs-of-concept in front of a panel of well-qualified startup industry judges. All part of the close of the second annual installment of Hollywod Hack Day.

While visiting (and co-sponsor ineligible) east coast Tumblr programmer John Bunting got the crowd all worked up at one point with his hilarious Dancing Party Gifs, which strung together select motion grabs to a thumping soundtrack, the grand prize winner was Travis Chen with the clever game Typing Karaoke. Instead of belting out the words, users test their typing skills by trying to keep up on the keyboard and follow-along screen with song lyrics. Warning: “Call Me Maybe” is not for the faint of QWERTY heart.

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